Weekly Roundup 12/23/19

Top Stories

Amid a dispute over natural gas drilling rights, Turkey will begin basing Bayraktar-TB2 drones in Cyprus in order to conduct operations in the eastern Mediterranean. The governing body of the breakaway Turkish Cypriot region designated Gecitkale airport in eastern Cyprus as a base for the operations. For the past year, Turkey has conducted regular drone surveillance flights over Turkish natural gas drilling vessels near Cyprus. (Reuters)

Meanwhile, the Greek military reportedly plans to acquire strike-capable drones. Speaking to parliament, Greek Minister of Defense Nikos Panagiotopoulos said that Greece would acquire three drones from the U.S. and two from Israel. According to Panagiotopoulos, the drones could be used to target Turkish drones that enter Greek airspace. (The Times)

Air safety investigators in Argentina have concluded that a drone struck a commercial aircraft as it approached Buenos Aires last year. Investigators at JIAAC, the Argentine air safety agency, said that a chemical analysis of the impact location on the aircraft prove that a drone struck the Austral Lineas Aereas Embraer 190 jet as it was on final approach. (FlightGlobal)

The National Security Archive published a U.S. Navy memo from 2017 that describes potential security risks posed by the service’s use of drones made by the Chinese manufacturer DJI. The memo examines a range of vulnerabilities, including the possibility that the company is able to view user data, though it notes that a thorough study of the potential risks had yet to be completed. The U.S. Army discontinued its use of DJI drones on the basis of the previously classified document. (C4ISRNET)

Know Your Drone

The Russian Ministry of Defense is planning to test five-vehicle swarms of armed and unarmed autonomous unmanned ground vehicles for anti-robot operations. (C4ISRNET)

The Russian Foundation for Advanced Studies unveiled a new, larger version of its Marker unmanned ground vehicle equipped with a large-caliber weapon and a multirotor reconnaissance drone. (Jane’s)

South African company Airborne Drones unveiled a methane laser detector for multirotor drones. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

Drone maker Zero Zero Robotic unveiled the V-Coptr Falcon, a commercial camera drone powered by only two rotors. (CNET)

Norwegian startup Ntention unveiled the Astronaut Smart Glove, a glove that could enable astronauts to operate drones. (New Atlas)

In a naval exercise in September, NATO used a series of unmanned Helikites to extend the range of a series of unmanned surface vessels. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

Drones at Work

The U.S. delegation to the United Nations offered new evidence that Iran was behind the September drone strike on Saudi oil facilities. (Reuters)

Chinese gangs are reportedly using drones to drop contaminated items on pig farms to infect the livestock with African swine fever. (South China Morning Post)

Police in Delhi are using drones to monitor protestors marching against India’s Citizenship Amendment Act. (India Today)

Police in Barcelona, Spain, used a counter-drone system to foil a protest group’s attempt to fly drones bearing political banners over a football match between Barcelona and Real Madrid. (La Vanguardia)

Canadian startup Flash Forest has launched an effort to use large multirotor drones to plant one billion trees by 2028. (New Atlas)

A team at North Carolina State University is investigating how to use drones to monitor the health of Christmas tree production in the state’s Blue Ridge Mountains. (Futurism)

The New Zealand Department of Conservation and several environmental groups have reported that drones have been operating too close to nesting gannets at a regional park on the country’s North Island, which could pose a serious risk to the birds. (RNZ)

In a test, Iran’s postal service used a drone to deliver a box to the country’s telecommunications minister. (Associated Press)

A 100-pound University of Iowa drone crashed during a test flight in Johnson County, Iowa. (The Gazette)

Industry Intel

American Aerospace Technologies acquired the assets of PAE ISR, a manufacturer of long-range drones. (UAS Magazine)

The U.S. Navy awarded Northrop Grumman Systems a $251.5 million contract modification for four MQ-4C Triton aircraft and associated equipment. (DoD)

The U.S. Navy awarded Northrop Grumman Systems a $22.5 million contract for services in support of the MQ-8 Fire Scout. (DoD)

The U.S. Army awarded AeroVironment an $8.6 million foreign military sales contract for eight unmanned aircraft systems and initial spares for the government of Tunisia. (DoD)

Manna, an Ireland-based drone startup developing food delivery drones, announced that it has raised $3 million in a seed funding round led by Dynamo VC. (The Spoon)

Lockheed Martin and Canadian UAVs have partnered to provide an unmanned traffic management system for Canada. (Press Release)

Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and Bell Textron have partnered to conduct tests of Bell drones for the FAA’s UASIPP program. (Press Release)

The U.S. Congress has funded the Navy’s request for two large unmanned surface vessels in the Fiscal Year 2020 budget. (DefenseNews)

Meanwhile, the White House Office of Management and Budget directed the U.S. Navy to include unmanned vessels in its 355 ship plan. (The Drive)

Appropriators in Congress cut funding for the Navy’s suite of unmanned surface and undersea vehicles for the Littoral Combat Ship. (DefenseNews)

Leidos will acquire Dynetics, a defense technology firm that has specialized in future capabilities such as drone swarms and autonomy. (DefenseNews)

Commentary, Analysis, and Art

At Vice, Matthew Gault offers a few takeaways from the Center for the Study of the Drone’s new report on counter-drone systems.

At The Washington Post, Sudarsan Raghavan looks at the increasingly pivotal role that drones are playing in the war in Libya.

At Aviation International Online, Gordon Gilbert writes that this year’s European Union Aviation Safety Agency conference focused on societal concerns posed by drones.

At DefenseNews, Sebastian Sprenger writes that NATO is waiting on an Italian airworthiness ruling before it can fly its new RQ-4 Global Hawks through European airspace.

At Breaking Defense, Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. questions whether the results of a U.S. Army wargame that pitted robots and drones against humans would hold true in real life.



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